There were plenty of mails after last night's blog. Several hadn't realised that Kim Barnett's formative years in Derbyshire colours were so unproductive, but a glance at your Wisdens or the Cricket Archive website will confirm last night's statistics.
The difference being, of course, that Barnett was a callow youth in a good batting side, where Hill, Wright, Wood, Kirsten and Steele gave a sound foundation to most innings and the odd ill-judged flirtation outside off stump could be forgiven. I don't think anyone who watched Barnett in those early seasons would have seen in him perhaps the greatest Derbyshire batsman of his generation and arguably the best ever.
It all happened - although of course his natural talent was a factor - because he was given opportunity by Phil Russell. He promoted him to open the innings, gave him the responsibility of the captaincy and the rest, as they say, is history. He might have made it had he remained in the middle order, but Russell's actions were a stroke of genius, confirming what a very good coach and judge of players he was.
Which is the point I was making about Ben Slater. It would be silly to make a judgement on the lad's worth as a county cricketer without giving him opportunity to bat where he has made his runs at lower levels of the game. We may as well give him a chance in the second half of the season and see how it goes. You just don't know with young players, but you have to give them a go.
The problem for our young players is that they're all trying to come through at the same time and there's only three experienced batsmen alongside them. In any one side we will have three batsmen making their way in the game and it is hard for them, especially on wickets like the one for the latest match. When a world-ranked batsman like Chanderpaul struggles, when high-class openers such as Trescothick and Compton do so, we cannot realistically expect young lads to come in and smack it around.
Their development will be hindered to some extent by such wickets, though we might win a match or two along the way. The problem may come though, that the seamers will become used to easier pickings at Derby and find themselves exposed when they have to work harder for wickets further afield. Then you will see how good bowlers they are. It was an accusation against Les Jackson that he took most of his wickets on helpful home tracks, one laid to rest when statistics showed he was even more successful away. I'd wager that with him in the attack yesterday, Somerset would not have made three figures...
By the same token, the wicket made at least for a good game of cricket, unlike the track at Trent Bridge for their game that finished today. When you have 500 plays 478 in four, albeit rain-ruined days, it makes for scant entertainment. While batsmen will prefer such tracks for obvious reasons, they're as likely to lure people down to the county game as lunchtime cross-stitch demonstrations.
Tomorrow Derbyshire head to the scenic splendour of Chesterfield to play Kevin Dean's All Star Select From the Finest Players in the Derbyshire Premier League XI, or whatever it is called. It will be a good test and sees a debut for Albie Morkel. I think the Queens Park boundaries are well within his range and hope that he hits his best form early.
Supporters go to T20 to see sixes and fours - as WG Grace once said, "to see me bat, not you bowl". With the greatest respect to the bowlers, T20 without the boundaries is like operatic arias without the high C at the end - somewhat less appealing. We need to ensure that strokes can be played with a degree of confidence to pull in the crowds, but the tracks are slow enough to allow our array of spinners a chance to shine and cramp the opposition style.
Mind you, we look like being without a couple of them for the T20. Chesney Hughes is unlikely to bowl, having not done so all season, while the sight of Tom Knight limping around the County Ground with a protective boot around his lower leg doesn't suggest he will be playing anytime soon. Such protection is usually indicative of minor ligament damage and may see the young left-armer out for a week or two.
If we get many more injuries to our bowlers, we may yet see Mike Hendrick and Bob Swindell return to the side. I'd reckon they're ahead of me in the pecking order...
More tomorrow, with news from Chesterfield.